Russia is planning to focus on the development of social and military infrastructure in the port of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula, the Russian ambassador to Ukraine said on Sunday.
Russia's lease of the Black Sea Fleet's base in Sevastopol has been extended for 25 years after the current lease expires in 2017 in a deal simultaneously ratified by the Russian and Ukrainian parliaments in April. The lease may be further extended by five years.
"We must invest in the social infrastructure of the [Black Sea] fleet. It is necessary, I believe, to develop the coastal infrastructure [of the base] and seriously modernize its military hardware while investing in the city because it hosts the Black Sea Fleet," Mikhail Zurabov told reporters after a military parade in Sevastopol.
Russian President Dimitry Medvedev has already instructed the Russian Defense Ministry to prepare a plan within the next month for the development of the Sevastopol base, which plays a key role in ensuring Russia's presence in the Black Sea region and the Mediterranean.
Ukrainian opposition considers the presence of a Russian fleet in Crimea as a threat to national sovereignty and integrity of the country, while the majority of the population supports the extension of the lease as a catalyst for mutually beneficial cooperation between Kiev and Moscow.
SEVASTOPOL (Ukraine), May 9 (RIA Novosti)